Suns News

Suns Notebook: Ex-Suns Johnson Forced to Do It Alone

Steve Nash and the Suns head south to Miami and face the Heat on Friday night (5:30 p.m., My 45).
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Jerry Brown
eastvalleytribune.com,
Nov. 8, 2007

ATLANTA - The Hawks have already beaten both Dallas and Phoenix this season, and a collection of high draft picks are beginning to bear fruit just off Peachtree Street.

But there are still nights when Joe Johnson wonders why the other marquee name — that big trade acquisition or free agent signing — never showed up, forcing him to carry the load for a young, athletic team that still has growing up to do.

“There’s frustration,” Johnson, now in his third season following a 2005 trade and nasty divorce from Phoenix, said after a satisfying 105-96 win Wednesday over the Suns.

“I came here and thought we were going to add more pieces. But they really want to develop these young guys. I’m all for it, as long as they keep working hard and do what they are supposed to do.

“(Acquiring another veteran) hasn’t happened, but you have to roll with the punches and go with what you’ve got. Complaining only makes it worse. We have to fight this battle with what we’ve got, and we’re a pretty good team.”

Johnson was surrounded by the Suns all night but found the open man — usually wide open — with 10 assists. Marvin Williams (10-for-15 shooting) was the biggest beneficiary.

“They are going to double me. Everyone knows it, my teammates know it,” Johnson said.

“They just have to be ready when the ball comes their way.”

THE BRAZILIAN BRICK?

The Suns depend on Leandro Barbosa to carry a big piece of the offensive load when Steve Nash goes to the bench. But he had another poor shooting night Wednesday (5-for-14), and Phoenix continues to give up ground in chunks during those sequences.


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“I’m trying to do everything I can. My shot is just bad right now,” said Barbosa, who is now 6-for-25 from 3-point range (24 percent) after a 1-for-6 night. “I just have to keep working and trying to get better.”

And with Barbosa, Raja Bell and Grant Hill all struggling, Nash is forced into a score-first role he’d rather avoid. Nash has two 30-point games this week, but it’s not by design.

“It’s not my goal to shoot 20 times. I just didn’t have any other answers or alternatives,” Nash said. “Amaré (Stoudemire) is out, Boris (Diaw) isn’t 100 percent and we’re not creating a lot out there right now.”

MAYBE FRIDAY

Amaré Stoudemire said he didn’t suffer any setbacks Wednesday, and his injured knee felt good for a second day in a row. But he felt — and the trainers and coaches agreed — that he would delay his return by at least one more game, although it cost him a chance to play where he exploded for 43 points and 16 rebounds last year.

“This is certainly one of those games where Amaré could have helped us a little bit,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But I want him to be 100 percent and totally sure.”

Stoudemire said a day-to-day injury is proving more frustrating than the one that put him out for an entire season two years ago.

RING OF BOBBLEHEADS

In recognition of the Suns’ 40th anniversary, the organization is allowing fans to vote on suns.com to determine which members of the team’s Ring of Honor will get their own bobblehead this season.

Fans can vote for Alvan Adams, Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Walter Davis, Connie Hawkins, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Dick Van Arsdale or Paul Westphal.

The team has four bobblehead nights scheduled for this season, on Jan. 29 (Atlanta), Feb. 10 (Washington), March 7 (Utah) and April 14 (Golden State).

DOUBLING UP

Phoenix had eight players in double figures in Tuesday’s 115-83 win over Charlotte — the first time an NBA team turned the trick since last March 11, when Miami did it against Washington.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.